How To Avoid Hiring Your TV as Your Babysitter
As a homemaker, I’ve embraced the responsibility of managing our home. This means that planning and prepping meals, maintaining a functional kitchen, staying on top of the laundry, deep cleaning toilets, etc., falls on me.
As a stay-at-home mom, I’ve embraced the reality of daily chaos. This means that I’m somehow expected to do all the household tasks with a high-energy toddler added to the mix; one who refuses to eat his dinner, dumps all 19 of his Hot Wheels in the dirty kitchen sink, bangs on the dryer drum like it’s a drum set, switches the light off and on while I’m helplessly in the bathroom, etc.
Sometimes balancing it all can be quite overwhelming.
All too often, this weariness has left me scrambling to find a toddler-sized pacifier that will allow me to have a few minutes of peace to do this or that, all the while preventing another mess from being created simultaneously. Enter, the television.
For me, these well-intended moments of weariness can easily turn into hours which can quickly turn in a daily habit of streaming multiple shows for my child if I’m not mindful… simply because it’s easier to get things done that way.
Hear me out, I’m not saying that T.V. will ruin our children if safe shows are watched in moderation. But I’ve been convicted of my propensity to flick on the tube as habitually as fixing my son lunch just so I can accomplish each of my preferred chores without difficulty.
To resist this tendency, I must be creative and I certainly must be intentional. Here are a few tips I’ve implemented to keep my television off the payroll as a babysitter for my toddler:
1. Perspective is everything.
It’s so easy to feel inconvenienced or worn out by constantly changing diapers and wiping noses. When I remember that as mother I am the shepherd of precious souls, my stamina is reinvigorated. And I’m also more sensitive to discerning God’s priorities for me each day. Many days, I heap stress onto myself by demanding that I accomplish duties God never asked me to. Inevitably, it’s my son who suffers from this. Being willing to “let go” of unnecessary tasks allows me to exchange his time in front of the television with time spent building Legos on the floor and memories with Mom.
2. Get sufficient rest.
I’m preaching to myself on this one. I know that indulging in a late night pampering yourself or spent with your hubby after the kiddos go to bed is so much more fun than sleeping. But I have noticed, and even been convicted, that my productivity as a mom (and wife) is so much greater on the days following a good night’s sleep. When I’m not as exhausted, I feel less in need of any vain “crutch” to help me balance my day.
3. Let them “help”.
Perfectionists, this one’s especially for us! My little guy is entering the stage of wanting to help Mommy with chores. Theoretically, this is great! He is more than happy to empty the clothes from the (cooled down) dryer and dump them in our living room’s “comfy chair”. While involving him isn’t the tidiest, most efficient approach to getting household duties done, what it does accomplish is even more significant. It trains him to joyfully serve others, and allows him to gain confidence in simply being able, an important quality for any aspiring leader to cultivate.
4. Sit them at the table.
My biggest Little Guy is fairly independent. Meaning, he’s usually content to sit alone if I provide an exciting activity for him and I don’t venture too far out of his sight. Thank God for our centrally-located kitchen table! Offering a snack that’s slow to eat, such as a popsicle or a whole apple with a few “starter bites” in it can usually buy me at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time during which I can fill the dishwasher, sweep the floor before guests arrive, or simply take a breather. Coloring books, too, can keep my son contented.
5. Remember to discipline.
They may not be very articulate, but our precious “two-nagers” understand a lot more than we give them credit for. I’m convinced they know when they’re creating deliberate messes for us to clean up. Momma, if your child knowingly disregards any clear instruction you’ve given (such as to not rub Greek yogurt all over his body—hypothetically speaking, of course!), then it is your responsibility to respond with discipline. Being intentional to convey the necessity of obedience benefits so much more than merely warding off messes; God tells us that discipline eventually drives out the folly that is bound up in our children!
Simply being able to wear jammies while doing it doesn’t make housewifin’ and mommyin’ any easier. We need God’s wisdom and humility each day to make decisions that ultimately prefer our husbands and children. By God’s grace, we’ll continue to forsake what’s easier now for what’s most eternally significant.
“Turn my eyes away from looking at vanity;
And revive me in Your ways.”
 Proverbs 22:15